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Why it is okay to watch/read Harry Potter?

Make sure you read Jack Wilkie’s article on why we shouldn’t watch Harry Potter.  This article is by Eli Schnell. You can read more of Eli’s work here.  Enjoy the two articles and I hope they help you think through the issue!

Before I begin my discussion of the subject at hand, I would like to clarify that Jack Wilkie is my brother in Christ and we both have the same goal in mind: to do what God desires for us to do. Although I disagree with Jack on the point under discussion, I still consider him a brother in Christ and a fellow servant of God. I am not maliciously going after Jack personally, but rather am simply attempting to make clear a subject that has been muddled.

You can read Jack’s article on why we shouldn’t read Harry Potter here.

ARGUMENT #1: The Bible condemns the practice of sorcery and witchcraft and the sorts of things happening in Harry Potter fall under the category of Sorcery and Witchcraft.

ANSWER #1: Yes the things being portrayed in the movies would be considered witchcraft. If I were to practice witchcraft I would be in violation of God’s commands. I am not, however, practicing witchcraft by watching a movie. Next argument.

ARGUMENT #2: Watching fictional witchcraft is the same as watching fictional sexual immorality.

ANSWER #2: There is at least one major difference between the two: Watching fictional sexual immorality (in most cases) is going to cause me to lust after the people portraying the fiction because of the activities they are engaging in on the screen. This is why watching this sort of content is wrong. However, we cannot compare watching sex on screen to watching a boy say “abra cadabra” and a book floating in the air. We have two totally different discussions on our hands at this point. The reasoning behind not watching sexual immorality is solid, but does not apply to Harry Potter, or other such movies.

ARGUMENT #3: It is wrong for us to be entertained by fictional characters using fictional spells because some people still attempt to use spells/witchcraft in real life.

ANSWER #3: Obviously just because some people are extremely misguided does not change whether or not something is wrong or right in the eyes of God. Whether or not “Wiccans” and “Witches and Warlocks” still exist is of no consequence in a discussion of right and wrong. The very mention of other people in this discussion, however, opens a door that I would like to step boldly through. If we converted a “practicing” witch or warlock or a Wiccan, it is possible that having them sit down and watch Harry Potter with me for entertainment would place a significant stumbling block in front of them because of their background. They may begin wondering if witchcraft is alright to still practice, or they may be reminded of their days spent “spell-casting” and lapse back into practicing something God condemns. In this case I would be sinning because I am not considering the greatest good of my brother. Again, I am not sinning simply because I am entertained by “abra cadabra” and a floating book, but because I am damaging the conscience of my brother in the process (1 Corinthians 10:23ff).

In Hebrews 11 we have our “heroes of faith” who are discussed and brought up by name. Among those names we find Rahab. Rahab was a harlot, a prostitute, and a liar. I ask myself at this point, does the fact that she was a harlot and a liar make her story less inspiring? Does it make her story sinful for me to read about? No. I can focus on the good she did for God and the overall moral of the story rather than the fact that she was a liar and a prostitute. We can do the same with Harry Potter. We can place our focus on the moral of the story instead of thinking “OOOOOOOO!!! I wanna do MAAAAGIC!”

ARGUMENT #4: Harry Potter has dark undertones and this makes it sinful to watch.

ANSWER #4: I ask the question: do dark undertones make a movie sinful to watch? The darkness that is there is portrayed by the evil characters, not the protagonist Harry. The evil is triumphed over at the end (I assume). Also, as a side note, swearing can be dealt with by purchasing a filter for your DVD player that can remove the swearing so that when you rent/buy the movie you don’t have to deal with it being placed in your ears. Also worthy of note: Harry Potter has very little if any swearing within the movies that I can recall. It has been some time since I have indulged them, but I wanted to make the statement.

Conclusion:

I don’t see any damning evidence being presented in these arguments. Would it be wrong for a Christian to begin worshipping “House Gryffindor” or “House Slytherin?” Absolutely. Would it be wrong for a Christian to begin attempting to learn how to cast magic spells using power from sources other than God? Absolutely. But is it wrong for me to watch a movie where a writer has created a fictional story about a little boy who can use magic and goes to a school for “gifted individuals” where he deals with moral dilemmas and issues of right and wrong, heroism and villainy? I have yet to see where the Bible would condemn such an action.

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22 Comments

  1. This is a very interesting debate. I have a disclaimer…I have never viewed either the movie or the books. Having said that, I have always heard about the debate of whether my children should be exposed to HP or not. I try to err on the side of caution. I only wanted to point out two things: Jack had a good point that I believe Eli did not ever refute adequetely. Viewing practices on a screen or reading about them in the Bible that are directly opposed to the will of God brings no Honor or Glory to Him, whether it is pornography or sorcery. The audience that HP caters to I believe is one that is as young as elementary school age. With that said, I do not want my children adding to their worldview sorcery or witchcraft (HP type) as a truth. By allowing them to watch HP it would give the illusion that I approve of a sinful act according to the works of the flesh as entertainment. My entertainment is much less important in the grand scheme of things than bringing honor and Glory to God.

  2. Wesley

    November 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for the comment Mark. I have never seen these movies or read the books either that is why I asked Jack and Eli to write since they both have.

  3. I read the debate. My mind has been renewed by the word and I have to say even watching something that we as Christians do not practice can still have the capability of leading us into eventually not seeing anything wrong with witchcraft or sorcery. I do not even watch HGTV shows where the couple is living together and not married. I do not want to become desensitized to these things. I think it all starts to become desenitized when we watch things we as Christians may not do ourselves, but think it’s still okay to watch. We have to be very careful of the tricks satan is trying to play on us.

  4. You’re a Bible verse:

    Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. – Romans 1:32

  5. Wesley

    November 20, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Thanks Nikki and Canyon for chiming in. I will let Eli defend his own post.

    Canyon I do not believe that Eli would say he would be approving of the practice of sorcery. I think you have to first prove that by watching the Harry Potter that you are giving approval for real people to practice true sorcery. So, it might be helpful for you to flesh out your opinion more.

  6. I think this brother addressed the issue well and answered brilliantly. To me the Harry Potter books, as well as the Lord of the Rings, Narnian, Forgotten Realms, Warhammer, Star Wars and even classics like Dracula and Jeykll and Hyde are about the classic war against good and evil, as well as being exciting adventure stories. They contain no more questionable material than what scripture itself contains. Infact, I’ve seen better essays on the power of God written within the pages of C.S. Lewis’s Narnian books and Dan Abnetts Ravernor series than I have heard from most pulpits. To write off these fantasy novels as sinful simply because magic is a tool is a bit stupid. It’s fantasy. It’s make believe. It’s not real! Sure, as a kid I played make believe and pretended I was a wizard, a vampire, a ghostbuster, whatever, but I understood that it’s not real. Kids do have brains you know. It’s like banning role playing games because the allow you to play spell casters, despite the fact that playing DnD is akin to Monopoly, it’s dice rolling, and I don’t see any angry Christians campaigning against the exploitative capitalism found in Monopoly. I see a massive double standard here. It’s either fiction based on fantasy or reality is a sin or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways.

  7. You have to look at the way Scripture views sorcery and not the way we want to view it. We view it as fantasy and fiction. Scripture names it as a sin on the same level as lying and committing fornication. It is not left to us to make divisions to say one is ok and the other isn’t. Bottom line, if you removed every instance of magic and replaced it with fornication, would it be acceptable? I would surely hope not. Sorcery is sin. Basically, it has come down to whether or not people want to watch it or not, which is sad. It’s a great story. I love the story. However, sorcery is sin and there is no Harry Potter without sorcery.

  8. Harry Potter has as much to do with real witchcraft as eating a taco does with belonging to a mexican drug cartel. There’s plenty to be concerned with in popular culture. Save your breath for the fights worth fighting.

    http://doulogos.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

  9. On the blog I linked to above look at entry 1004 for a balanced approach. If your convictions wont allow Harry Potter at least be consistant and go live in a cave because the same arguments you use against HP are applicable to all of our sinful culture.

  10. Harry Potter is a choice. We choose to watch or not. “We can be IN the world, but not OF the world.” Thus, we do not have to live in a cave to be consistent. It’s all about making choices that bring glory to God in light of His word.

  11. After all the arguments made one way or the other, this is the most simple way I can say it.

    The Bible names sorcery as sin – agreed?
    We are to be opposed to sin – agreed?
    Harry Potter is centered on sorcery – agreed?

    We should not give approval to Harry Potter

  12. “Whatever is good, whatever is right, whatever is pure..think on these things…” Philipians

    “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.”

    Psalm 101:3a

    Thank you Canyon for Romans 1:32!

  13. Uh. Isn’t the biblical definition of a “witch” someone who has sold their soul to the Devil for their abilities? If you just -can- do magic, and the Devil has nothing to do with it, then wouldn’t the magic just be a gift from God?

  14. Wesley

    June 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Actually, witchcraft is never spoken of as selling your soul to the devil, instead it is forbidden by God.

  15. I for one am disturbed by the people who disapprove of or vehemently attack the Harry Potter series because of the sorcery. Yes, the characters of the movie practice something that is outlined in the Bible as sinful. But this is not the first time that God has allowed someone who is deep in sin to teach us important lessons. In the Old Testament, some of the greatest heroes are prostitutes, thieves, and liars. Christ Himself chooses a tax collector, one of the most despised and sinful people of the time, to be his Apostle. If we followed the mentality of “I should not read, watch, experience, or partake in any story that contains or focuses on what the Bible outlaws as sin.”, then we would not be able to read most of the Bible. Furthermore, people who focus on the sorcery with a fear that real people will try to imitate or perform witchcraft do an enormous offense to God by the mere assumption that witchcraft can be done! I personally feel that I bring glory to God by exercising the good judgment, conscience, and intellect he gave me when educating or entertaining myself, by learning good lessons from imperfect people. All of us are sinners, and that is why we need our Lord Jesus. It does not make any sense to assume that the Harry Potter series is inherently wrong for all people to partake in. I would not recommend it for small children, the same way that I would not make the story of Mary Magdalene my child’s first encounter with the Bible. But for those of us with mature consciences, good lessons can most certainly be learned from imperfect sources. That is what life is all about.

  16. I for one am disturbed by the people who disapprove of or vehemently attack the Harry Potter series because of the sorcery. Yes, the characters of the movie practice something that is outlined in the Bible as sinful. But this is not the first time that God has allowed someone who is deep in sin to teach us important lessons. In the Old Testament, some of the greatest heroes are prostitutes, thieves, and liars. Christ Himself chooses a tax collector, one of the most despised and sinful people of the time, to be his Apostle. If we followed the mentality of “I should not read, watch, experience, or partake in any story that contains or focuses on what the Bible outlaws as sin.”, then we would not be able to read most of the Bible. Furthermore, people who focus on the sorcery with a fear that real people will try to imitate or perform witchcraft do an enormous offense to God by the mere assumption that witchcraft can be done! I personally feel that I bring glory to God by exercising the good judgment, conscience, and intellect he gave me when educating or entertaining myself, by learning good lessons from imperfect people. All of us are sinners, and that is why we need our Lord Jesus. It does not make any sense to assume that the Harry Potter series is inherently wrong for all people to partake in. I would not recommend it for small children, the same way that I would not make the story of Mary Magdalene my child’s first encounter with the Bible. But for those of us with mature consciences, good lessons can most certainly be learned from imperfect sources. That is what life is all about.

  17. I honestly don’t think that we have the right to justify whether something is good or bad, pure or evil. It’s really God who judges what something is. Who are we to judge something through our own knowledge? I think that debating about such things is hopeless. I’ve just finished reading both posts and all the comments and all I felt was that it was just repeating all over again and again. I really am sorry if I have offended anybody through this post but I just wanted to say that we should pray more rather that trying to figure it out with our own abilities.

  18. I would like to point out, watching sexual sin and watching sorcery sin is NOT the same, if i were to watch something involving sexual sin, that would cause me to lust, which in itself is another sin, whereas watching something involving witchcraft will not cause me to go and practice sorcery. So it is not fair to compare the two together.
    Also, I would also like to point out that Narnia is a christian story, you can easily tell. I will explain how it’s a christian story, Aslan represents Jesus, the witch the devil, Aslan dies and rose again like Jesus and defeated the witch like Jesus defeated the devil. Also Lord of the rings was written by a christian writer who based the story on WW2 and added some christian elements, like Gandalf dies and rises again to save. So you cannot compare with those 2 stories

  19. Argument 1# The act of buying or renting such filth would condone the act of withcraft that I think the Lord would not approve of. Would Jesus be watching withcraft movies? I hardly think so.
    Argument #2. Watching fictional witchcraft opens doors to the demons. Plants seeds of unrighteousness.
    Argument #3. READ THIS!!! Fictional spells you may ask??? J.K. Rowling is a known occultist who admits to taking real spells from witchcraft books and fancying them up to look innocent to the masses. THESE ARE NOT FICTIONAL SPELLS!!! She is teaching you how to use demonic spells of which even if you dont practice you are watching or reading real occult activities.
    Argument #4 Swearing?? Now I have to buy stuff to filter out things that shouldn’t be in a christian household anyways? Obvious not Christian worthy soooo whats the debate??

  20. I live watching people argue. It’s quite entertaining to be honest. But isn’t that what makes a good book/movie.
    It’s really a matter of opinion.
    Are you REALLY sinning if you watch or read these books?
    Why don’t we discover these answers ourselves? It will help us deepen our faith.
    @Benjamin. I have a question for you about your arguments. Where is your proof? Most of the spells in the HP series, are Latin translations. The spell Lumos, is derived from the word lux which means light. I’m not saying your wrong. I just would like to see the proof. Plus wouldn’t that be saying if you learned to speak sindrin *LOTR* you would be sinning?
    @mark donland. I wasn’t allowed to read the books till inwas in eighth grade. My parents said I should a decent amount of decrement for my age and that I was old enough to decide to read the books or not. ~THIS GOES FOR ANY PARENT~ if your not sure if you want to allow your children to see or read a movie/book. Do your research. Have your children do reasearch if they really want to watch/read it. Tell them reason s why you don’t want them reading or watching it. Have them counter you. Then you can decide that way.
    I am not a parent. But that’s what my rents did for me.
    Honestly, I didn’t want to comment, but it looks like it’s just a bunch of audults arguing like children about something that affects me and my generation.
    If you don’t want to read it. Don’t read it.
    You don’t want to watch it. Don’t watch it.
    Im going to go read ho and LOTR and my bible now. You know, to go deepen my faith.
    -jessy:)
    I have read LOTR and seen the movies. Multiple times. Same with HP and CoN. And I’m 15.
    Have a nice day:)

  21. BOTTOM LINE: Christians are followers of Jesus Christ / Yeshua Ha Massiach, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, and of all the other Messianic prophecies of the Hebrew Bible.
    Paul warned (Gal.1:6-8): “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One Who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
    Paul refers to such people who infiltrate the church and try bring a different teaching other than the Cross of Jesus Christ, as “false brothers” who should not be given one moment of our attention (Gal.2:4-5).
    It is the grace of God through the Cross of Jesus Christ that sets us free from laws AND sin. The Freemasons have a similar story of someone dying, but the gospel is perverted AND IT ISN’T JESUS CHRIST; Harry Potter the same thing, perverting the Gospel of Jesus Christ; many religions claim one of their masters are “A Christ”. Jesus is THE Christ of the Hebrew Scriptures. He fulfilled every prophecy completely and perfectly. Only possible because He IS!
    John (2 John:9-11) warns us “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”
    In this verse we are told not to put them up or support them in their mission to spread a false gospel. So, though many on this page claim that HP is fiction, the authors of HP are spreading a different gospel which we should not bring into our homes / hearts via movies & books.
    BE CAREFUL LITTLE EYES WHAT YOU SEE… BE CAREFUL LITTLE EARS WHAT YOU HEAR…

    Don’t call yourself Christian if you are flirting with other gospels (lovers)… God is a jealous God! Be hot or cold, God can see right through this luke-warm mush you are trying to feed him, as if He’s a baby and needs it… He will spit you out in disgust. He’s not a baby still in a manger. He’s a consuming fire. “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb.2:3).
    Sound harsh? God disciplines all He considers sons/daughters; He rebukes all He loves. See the Love of God today and repent; He longs to take you into His loving arms and console you, but He can’t until you have repented. Law is for lawbreakers… God’s law the same. For those who DON’T ignore the only Way of Salvation, Jesus Christ, and who DON’T flirt with other gods/gospels: there is freedom from law and sin and condemnation (Rom.8).
    Anyone who flirts with other gospels, being entertained by them (how can you when you know the severity and cost of the Cross of Christ??! – it’s a mockery to Christ when we are “entertained” by other gospels, a if the Cross-death of Christ has no value), is in grave danger of falling away from the true grace of God. I can’t say where the cross-over line exactly is, but there is one and I wouldn’t play with it. God is SO good and the devil so bad; why do you flirt with the devil?! He doesn’t deserve one second of your time.
    Chose ye this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the LORD!

    Many follow Rahab into her sin, few into her repentance! The Bible is about God’s Kingdom, and warnings of consequences (curses)for those who don’t chose to make Him King, as opposed to Blessings for those who do!
    We are NOT meant to be ENTERTAINED by Rahab’s former life before she – IN FAITH – chose Israel’s God above the gods of Jericho. HP and other “Messiah- types” as HP seems to claim to be, don’t have a testimony of salvation as David, Rahab, the Apostle Paul, and I have. Jesus is the ONLY PERFECT sacrifice; any other cannot save. Anyone who practices witchcraft belongs to the devil, even if in the false pretence of it being “for good”. In the last of the last days everyone will hail in the Anti-Christ because of his false promise of good “peace”. Beware you don’t get swept away with the crowds as they did with Hitler who promised the same thing!

  22. I have a question. And i dont want it to sound obvious, but, isn’t God magic? Speaking the world into existence sounds a lot like incantational magic. And if God can’t be around sin, then Magic itself is not sinful. Sorcery, however… Sorcery sounds a bit different. -Use of supernatural power over others through the assistance of spirits; witchcraft. (i.e. demons?)

    Next, Galinda, It seems like you were equating harry potter to the messiah. However, if there were going to be a Christology in HP it would be Harrys mother. (not to get into feminine Christology, just saying) Harry, much like all of us, have a sin nature that we need to die to – to be able to overcome evil with Good! Right?

    -David

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